MASSENA — The Massena Central School District’s Guidance Department is already several steps ahead of new requirements from the state Education Department, which must be in place by September.
“We came into this knowing that there was a lot we’d already been doing,” said Robert Jordan, director of guidance.
An advisory board was formed to address the changes. Its members include Mr. Jordan, board member Amber Baines, principal Danielle Chapman, Pre-K teacher and parent Amy Wilmshurst, school psychologist Kyle DiTullio, student Callie Dow and school counselors Nicole LaPage, Keri Zaza, Tammy Burke, Christine Winston and Van Alexander.
State regulations require the board to meet twice during the school year, and it met three times during 2018-19 academic year, starting in January. Mr. Jordan said board members began looking through the new regulations to see where they were and where they needed to go with counseling.
“We went through to make sure we were aligned with New York state standards,” Ms. Zaza said.
“It was just a matter of reassessing how to do it. We met three times this year to go through the plan,” Mr. Jordan said.
The “Massena Central School District Comprehensive School Counseling Plan” addresses a number of areas, such as information dissemination; counseling; parental involvement; annual review, planning and appraisal; support services and consultation; assessments; and program objectives.
School counseling in the 1970’s included counseling, consultation, classroom guidance, and college and career planning. In 2019, there’s individual counseling, group counseling, classroom guidance, consultation, college and career planning, casework, advocacy, data-driven practice, and interventions involving social emotional, crisis, and drug use and abuse.
Mr. Jordan said they had been focused on the high school level, and not lower levels. He said forming the advisory board allowed them to come together and talk about how they would move forward to ensure every student from kindergarten to grade 12 had access to a certified school counselor.
They also began developing individual progress reports for all students in grades 6 through 12 to track their progression through their school years. Mr. Jordan said, because of the district’s alignment with sixth-graders and eighth-graders entering a new school, students sometimes had difficulty with that transition.
As a result, they’ve developed individual progress reports for students in grades 6 through 8, and separate reports for students in grades 9 through 12 which will allow them to track the students after they make that transition. Each student will have an annual review with a certified school counselor.
The counselors will also be using data to assess program efficacy and student growth.